Dr. Rosemarie Russo [Photo courtesy of the City of Moab]

Come meet Moab’s new sustainability director Rosemarie Russo next week, and learn about the position that the city has created.

Russo will be speaking at the Grand County League of Women Voters meeting on Monday, Sept. 11, at the Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St.

The sustainability director is responsible for creating and implementing comprehensive strategies to help Moab reach its renewable energy goals for both municipal services and the community as a whole, according to the city’s job description. Those goals are to be met via “carbon emission reduction measures, aggressive energy efficiency standards, local renewable power generation (and) partnerships with private energy providers,” among other things, according to city officials.

Russo comes to Moab with a wealth of experience, which includes coordinating the sustainability program in Fort Collins, Colorado, for nearly a decade.

“I have always loved Moab and my son started college recently so I was interested in a new adventure myself,” Russo said. “I hope to build upon the great work that (Mayor) Dave Sakrison has started, such as the 2020 Plan and the renewable energy goal for 2030.”

Moab City Manager David Everitt said the new position was created after the city council decided to make sustainability a high priority in the community. The city has set ambitious goals to rely on 100 percent renewable energy in the next couple of decades, he said.

“We’re a small staff, and it became clear that to implement our priorities and meet goals, we needed to add a person or two,” Everitt said. “A number of other communities have a sustainability staff; we’re starting small, with one.”

Russo has a doctorate of education from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, studied law in Vermont, and earned a sustainability management certificate from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Grand County League of Women Voters co-president Barbara Lacy said.

She taught global environmental change, sustainability for business and municipalities at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and law at the graduate school of education at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Russo continues to teach classes online. Her experience also includes work as an environmental law consultant on Superfund sites.

Two years ago, Russo was named the National Geographic’s Sustainability Scholar for the Environmental Forum in Aspen. At the three-day conference, attended by sustainability experts nationwide, she shared how she helped create a district in Fort Collins that generated as much energy as it was using. She’s also author of “Jumping from the Ivory Tower: Creating Sustainable Communities through Service Learning.”

“We’re very excited to have Rosemarie on staff with all her experience and knowledge,” Everitt said. “We held a lengthy interviewing and recruiting process. We had a great pool of applicants to choose from. She brought the broadest and deepest experience to the job.”

Russo’s job duties will include looking at ways to incentivize people to use energy efficiently, as well as create energy, Everitt said.

That could include the weatherization of homes, or helping people install solar panels on their houses, for example. Russo will also focus on water sustainability issues, he added.

Additionally, the city is considering the possibility of developing a solar farm, and is in the process of evaluating its policies to ensure that it is not contradicting its renewable energy goals, Everitt said.

Russo is already working with Dr. Roslynn Brain, a sustainable communities extension specialist in Moab with the Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. Brain will introduce Russo at the LWV meeting.

“We’re looking at how to coordinate efforts and have students work on projects here in Moab,” Russo said.

Becoming more sustainable includes not only using more renewable energy, but also promoting “green” building and supporting local foods, Russo said.

Grand County League of Women Voters co-president Barbara Lacy said that Russo will be present to discuss her role in fostering positive environmental policies.

The nonpartisan league’s mission is to encourage voter participation and civic engagement by providing unbiased information about elections, the voting process and issues. The national organization was founded in 1920, shortly before women gained the right to vote in the United States.

The local chapter shares information with the community by holding educational meetings that are open to the public, Lacy said.

The Grand County League of Women Voters is open to both men and women. There are approximately 75 members; new members are always welcome.

The group meets during the school year, on the second Monday of each month at 5:15 p.m. at the library.

League of Women Voters to introduce city’s new sustainability director on Sept. 11

What: Grand County League of Women Voters meeting

When: Monday, Sept. 11, at 5:15 p.m.

Where: Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St.

Information: www.grandcounty.ut.lwvnet.org